Advice needed please to help semi feral cat on sit

We are half way through an 8 day sit of 2 cats. 1 we’ve bonded with & is fine. The other we’ve hardley seen.
The owner did warn us she’s an extremely timid cat & both cats were already missing a third cat, who theyd sadley lost just a week or so before the sit.
The disapeared cat ran off as we arrived, HO said she usually does this when anyone visits & would probably be out all night.
Next morning she was at the front doo, her usual way in and out of the house, but darted back down the garden path when she saw me. I quickly then put some food on the doorstep and closed the door, she ate then disappeared again.
Day 2 the morning was the same, she also appeared at night, we put food on the step & she ate it. We also thought we were making progress here with 2 visits!
Day 3, we slept in & it was too hot to leave the food on the step but we left it in the evening & it was eaten. We didnt see her at all though.
Day 4 (today) ive been up earlier to see if she came round but no sign of her. I was tempted to leave food again but havent. Partly i wasnt sure she’d turn up to eat it & partly i’d really like her to get used to us.
Ive also spoken to the HO, I think she’s understandably worried about her cat but has said does disappear. I think its the first time shes left them too.
Im just of a mind now to leave food on the step at regular time each evening but would really appreciate any advice.
Its abit if a worry for us as sitters wanting to knoe shes ok.

We have had a sit with 20+ cats (not even the “owner” knew how many), most of the cats on that sit were like that. We left food outside according to her instructions and the familiar schedule. It might help if you left things with your smell around where she would come by and could get used to your smell, but it sounds like in this case it would take a long time.


Hello @Gina and I empathize with your concern. It sounds like you are doing all the right things as well as benefitting from the feedback of the owner. That doesn’t make it any easier or less worrying I know.

We just had a similar situation in France on a short week long sit for new friends just last week. They have a young stray they have welcomed in who is very timid and unsure of new people. They also have a 14 year old cat who is perfectly happy with people. “Junior” was comfortable only when we were feeding him but extremely skittish, quickly running off to hide when feeding time over. We arrived when it was raining so both cats were inside much of time. As the weather improved we saw less of Junior until the last few days not at all. Like you we become worried… it was the first time his owners had been away from him and our concern was he thought he’d been abandoned.

We also shared our concerns and the owners were confident, as the food was disappearing overnight, he was fine and enjoying the improved weather out and about.

I was worried that he’d not reappeared before we left but then huge relief when they messaged the next day to say Junior had briefly jumped on the bed that first night they were back. A week later he’s back to his normal routine!

We did the same as you… Left dry food each day which went overnight. We knew the other cat preferred the wet food. I think, based on our experience, you are doing the right thing.

Its hard not to worry but hopefully she’s fine and just being extra timid. Let us know how it goes. Take care, Vanessa


We had a similar experience on a sit. You can never get a cat to behave as you want, they’re always their own boss. Try not to worry and just keep leaving food & water and am sure it will be fine. We’re looking after 5 street cats in Morocco at the moment and one does exactly that, three are here, one is half here and we have visits from a street cat that’s not even ours when it’s dinner time! We’re going with the flow :+1:


Thanks so much @Timmy @Vanessa-ForumCMgr & @Cuttlefish .
Really appreciate, its also good to know other sitters have the same experience. .
Yes i quite regret not putting the food out this morning, maybe she would have & maybe she wouldnt have come down the path.
But we are going to stick to this tonight & probably again in the morning.
If anything i think cats are good at food routine.
I was sort if hopeful she’d wander back when weve been out.
Interestinhly vannessa all 3 cats came from france originally. The girl was the most feral.
I will keep posted on this though as to how we go on.


I have two of my own cats and 6 roaming cats that I feed daily. I have stopped worrying about them not showing for days at a time as they always show sooner or later. I am sure the kitty is just fine and doing what roaming cats do, they roam. It must be a worry for you though as you are sitting but the home owner should be aware of how cats behave.

Leaving food a regular time is the best thing. My roamers wait for me at 9:15 each morning but life is life and sometimes its not possible. They adjust. They are cats after all.


Thankyou all ao much for the advice.
We stuck to regularly putting food out out in the evening & before bed for her to eat early. Sometimes the food went but not always but we had 2 sightings of her by chance in the garden, the longest of which she hung around for maybe five minutes, the second i think was about minute.
Mainly we got in a routine and was relatively sure she was ok.
The homeowner came home last night, the cat was straight in the house & full of fuss to see her again!
She must be so glad the “stand ins” have finally gone😊.
Anyway all is well


@Gina that’s so good to hear! Thank you for giving us an update. Cats can be so fickle… but we love them nonetheless :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes Where to next?


It is difficult sometimes with skittish cats. Unfortunately it can take a lot of time sometimes to build enough trust they are happy around you.
I was on a sit recently where one of the cats wouldn’t stay in the house if they saw me. I did what you are doing and put food out for them and they are it when I was out. They did come round by the fourth day and from not wanting to be in the same house suddenly jumped on my knee and then climbed me until we were nose to nose.
I just remember each cat has a different personality. I think all you can do is to make sure the cat has access to food and water.


Oh thats so sweet @richten1.
Yes i think i was hoping to form a bond, which is definitely what this cat has with the HO.
In fairness when i did spot her i just sat at distance & said her name & praised her softly.
In the end the other cat was such a sweetie we thought it was nice for him to have us two humans to himself!
So rewarding though for you to make a break through with a wary cat. But good lessons learnt for us too.